In my dreams we have 8 acres of land with cows, chickens, pigs, an orchard, beehives, a vegetable garden, fields of wheat and barley. In the centre is an old farmhouse, large and rambling, and a collection of picturesque brick barns and sheds. A vintage tractor, lovingly restored by Ed, is our beloved (though temperamental) workhorse. In every direction are idyllic views. It's a nice dream.
But actually I'd settle for a lot less. I'm delighted with our chickens and our allotment. I'd love a bit more space so we could be seriously self-sufficient in veg. A whole allotment (rather than our quarter of one) would probably do the trick. Or an enormous garden. And, of course, the time to spend on it.
That's what Richard Cannon has. A big vegetable garden, two greenhouses, loads of chickens, a van and a reputation as a handyman. This enabled him to give up his full-time job on the railways six years ago, and he sounds very happy with his new "downshifted" way of life, even without a thatched cottage and 8 acres.
His website, Down The Lane, is full of useful information about vegetable growing, foraging, frugal living, and making money from sidelines such as boot fairs, making and selling chutney, and being a "mystery shopper". His pages about poultry keeping are invaluable. There is also a friendly forum, although the traffic is very low. If you'd like to downshift your whole life, or just some areas of it, and you'd like to read about a realistic way to make it happen, then spend some time browsing Richard's site.